Thursday, February 23, 2006

NEVER TRUST A HIPPIE. Now that Iraq is blowin' up real good and professional Bush apologists are putting their backs into the UAE counter-spin (expect a "but I support gay marriage, sort of" post from the Perfesser soon!), it may be that the rightwing mothership is finally heading toward that state once attributed by The Onion to Alzheimer's Ronnie: "Reagan's Condition Upgraded to 'Hilarious.'"

Further evidence of rightwing endtimes: the emergence of bizarre cults, such as Crunchy Conservatism.

CrunchyCon founder Rod Dreher has been extensively treated in these pages: a delicate son of rednecks, Dreher came to Noo Yawk to write (the world's least interesting) movie reviews for the New York Post, proceeded to talk smack about his adopted home at The Corner, fled in a huff to the Promised Land Down Yonder, then started bitching about all the McMansions he had to live amongst.

Over the last few years Dreher has been peddling a line of intellectual fashion called Crunchy Conservatism. It seems to be about some kind of yuppie-ish back-to-the-land movement that wants to feel good about drinking fair-trade coffee while voting Republican and hating homosexuals.

Dreher's new book on the subject is known to me only by its tireless promotions by Dreher's hivemindmates. But if the blog National Review has set up for Dreher -- bookmark it, froth fans! -- is any indication, then we aficionados of conservative lunacy are in for a lovely run of material.

After a cheerfully inclusive beginning -- "I heard from literally hundreds of NRO readers who said, 'Me too!'" says Dreher -- we quickly descend into straight Jesus freakery. "I put much more stock in what amounts to monasticism," says one Caleb Stegall, "in the broadest sense, which includes all of the crunchy virtues Rod discusses and more, though in a very natural and inarticulate way." Good thing he warned us about the inarticulateness, because after an apparently added bellyful of what the monks are fermenting, Caleb comes back with more:
Possessed of abstract natural rights, the developing 18th Century liberalism (whether in its radical continental form or more restrained English/Lockean incarnation) located the individual and his unconstrained will as the fundamental and universal unit of political and cultural order...

In the end, however, the underlying philosophical conception of man, society, and God will trump any specific policy goal or cultural norm.
Sounds like these fellas are less worried about McMansions than they are about their McMansions of the Hill. Mitch Muncy grabs a paddle:
As Caleb suggests, there are larger problems here. All this takes place in the context of the loss of the "end" in Western civilization in general.

I locate the intellectual/historical/political roots of this problem in the fourteenth century (going Caleb one better, historically anyway), with the rise of Nominalism, which is, in a certain sense, an "end"-less metaphysics.
Nominalism! A great rallying-cry for the lumpencrunchitariat! Imagine the appalled faces of the folks who came to Dreher's blog expecting to hear about how it's okay for Republicans to buy organic, and instead got Wachet Auf!

But wait, Bruce Frohnen's still on nominalism:
It seems to me that Mitch, Angelo, and Caleb all are right in pointing to historical roots of conservatism's current malaise. What is the cause? It's the nominalist myth that we can call "beautiful" something that is ugly, and that makes it so; it's the myth that people who are committed to virtuous lives have something important with empire-builders and libertarians who liken marriage to a contract for purchasing lumber or toilet seats; it's the myth that each of us has a "right" to create our own society and reality, as if we were each either a god or something less than a person, with a soul that needs to be fed through social life.
Of course, it's always about fags gittin' hitched with these people. But that's not the only way in which the Crunchies are, even in their weirdness, typical of our times and their torpor.

First, there is the almost visceral aversion to reality: as the Republicans busily hoover up the last bits of money out of the National Treasury, the Crunchy Cons are earnestly arguing about how many Lockean angels can dance on the head of a nominalist pin. As their favored political apparatus shows itself to be nothing better than an extortion racket, the Crunchies argue for even less engagement in its processes -- while still living quite comfortably within its jurisdiction. No wonder these people think Jonah Goldberg is an intellectual: though his thoughts barely deserve the name, he can blow a thick cloud of words such as can shield him and his buddies from both the brightening light and the frantic whistle of an oncoming train.

But mainly, despite all their egregious Godliness and scholarly cites, these guys are cake-and-eat-it-too types who endorse a back-to-the-land code only insofar as its inconveniences are less onerous than the righteous, patchouli-scented glow it affords is pleasurable.

Would it surprise you to learn that these folks think a "family ski trip" is a Crunchy thing to do? (I am confident in assuming that the Matero family did not ride a covered wagon to Bum Mountain, and wear skis recycled from first-growth barrel staves.) Also, watching TV, while not favored, can be okay "if your family can watch TV without losing its soul... Maybe you’re raising your kids to be media critics..."

And through your creed would seem to demand that we all live in tight family clusters and spend Saturday nights singing spirituals with our 20 brothers and sisters, if you really, really want to move away, and stay away, from the Southerly swamps from whence you came, you can do it with an easy conscience. You might get a little lecture from one of your movement's would-be Robespierres (who accuses Dreher, for the sin of moving far from his Paw Paw, of "the language of choice; the language of liberalism"). But talk is cheap; you can throw up your own little cloud of rationalizations, and then get back to your free-range chicken and your fair-trade coffee and natural fibers, confident in the Lord's directive: if it feels good, do it.

Never forget, children, that the root word of yuppie is hippie.

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